How Long do Hermit Crabs Live in Captivity?

Hermit crabs are fascinating creatures that make popular and low-maintenance pets. While hermit crabs are known to live for a long time in the wild, many aquarium enthusiasts are curious about their lifespan in captivity.

This article will explore the various factors that influence the lifespan of captive hermit crabs and shed light on the average lifespan of these incredible creatures.

Factors Affecting Pet Hermit Crab Lifespan

Several factors affect the lifespan of pet hermit crabs in captivity. These factors include the quality of their habitat, access to food and water, exposure to toxins, and other environmental factors.

One of the most critical factors that impact hermit crab lifespan is the quality of their habitat. Hermit crabs require a habitat that is suitable for their species, with adequate space, temperature, and humidity levels. The habitat should also include a suitable substrate and hiding places to allow the hermit crabs to molt safely, as well as proper lighting and ventilation.

Another key factor that affects a hermit crab’s lifespan is access to food and water. Hermit crabs need a balanced diet that is high in calcium and other essential nutrients, as well as access to fresh water. Inadequate hydration or a diet lacking the necessary nutrients can cause illnesses and ultimately lead to a shorter lifespan.

Exposure to toxins is another factor that can impact the lifespan of captive hermit crabs. Toxins can come from a variety of sources, including chemicals in cleaning products or pesticides used in the home. Exposure to toxins can cause damage to the hermit crab’s organs and lead to a shorter lifespan.

Choosing the Right Environment for Your Hermit Crab

Creating a suitable environment for your hermit crabs is crucial for their health and lifespan. Here are some factors to consider when setting up your hermit crab’s habitat:

  • Size: Hermit crabs need room to move around and explore, so be sure to choose an aquarium that is large enough to accommodate your pets. A good rule of thumb is to provide at least five gallons of space per hermit crab.
  • Substrate: Choose a substrate that is safe and suitable for your hermit crabs. Options include sand, coconut fiber, and crushed coral. Avoid substrates that contain chemicals or artificial dyes.
  • Humidity: Hermit crabs require a humid environment to breathe properly, so be sure to maintain a humidity level of at least 70% in their habitat. You can achieve this by misting their habitat several times a day or installing a humidifier.
  • Temperature: Hermit crabs are sensitive to temperature changes, and their habitat should be kept within a range of 70-85°F. A heat lamp or ceramic heater can help maintain a consistent temperature.
  • Lighting: Hermit crabs require both light and darkness to regulate their molting cycles. Provide a light source for 10-12 hours per day and provide darkness for the remainder.
  • Accessories: Hermit crabs enjoy a variety of accessories such as climbing structures, shells, and hiding places. Be sure to provide plenty of options so they can explore and have a comfortable place to hide during molting.

Feeding and Watering Your Hermit Crab

Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for your hermit crab’s health and lifespan. Here are some tips to ensure your hermit crabs are well-fed and hydrated:

  • Diet: Hermit crabs require a balanced diet that is high in calcium and other essential nutrients. Provide them with a commercial hermit crab food or a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins. You can also offer calcium supplements, such as cuttlebone or crushed eggshells, to ensure they maintain healthy shells.
  • Water: Hermit crabs need access to both freshwater and saltwater to stay hydrated and healthy. Provide them with two separate dishes – one for freshwater and another for saltwater. You can make artificial saltwater by dissolving marine salt mix in freshwater.
  • Misting: In addition to providing water dishes, misting your hermit crab’s habitat with freshwater will help maintain humidity levels and provide an additional source of hydration.
  • Cleaning: It’s important to replace your hermit crab’s water dishes daily and clean them thoroughly to prevent bacteria buildup.
  • Avoid Toxins: Avoid giving your hermit crab any food that is toxic to them, such as avocado and citrus fruits. Also, ensure that the water and food dishes do not contain any chemicals as these can be harmful to your pets.

Maintaining a Clean Tank

A clean habitat is essential for the health and wellbeing of your hermit crabs. Here are some tips for maintaining a clean tank:

  • Spot Cleaning: Spot cleaning your hermit crab’s habitat daily by removing any uneaten food, feces, and shed exoskeletons. This will help prevent bacteria buildup and ensure the habitat remains hygienic.
  • Deep Cleaning: Deep clean your hermit crab’s habitat regularly by replacing the substrate and thoroughly cleaning all accessories, dishes, and decorations. You can use a mixture of white vinegar and water to clean the habitat, but be sure to rinse everything thoroughly.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaners when cleaning your hermit crab’s habitat. These chemicals can be toxic to your pets and cause harm to their sensitive respiratory systems.
  • Monitor for Pests: Hermit crab habitats can attract pests such as mites and small flies. Monitor your hermit crab’s habitat for any signs of pests and address the issue promptly before it becomes a larger problem.

Recognizing and Treating Illness in Hermit Crabs

Like any other pets, hermit crabs can get sick. Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Visible Signs: Watch out for lethargy, lack of appetite, discolored exoskeleton, or visible injuries. These can indicate an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed.
  • Abnormal Molting: Hermit crabs require a safe and stress-free environment for molting. Keep an eye out for abnormal molting, which can include difficulty shedding their exoskeleton or remaining inactive for extended periods. These can be signs of a more severe health issue.
  • Shell Issues: Hermit crabs rely on their shells for protection and security. Watch out for signs of a shell problem, such as a change in the shape or size of their shell or visible damage.
  • Respiratory Issues: Hermit crabs have a sensitive respiratory system and can experience issues such as labored breathing or coughing. If you notice any signs of respiratory distress, contact a veterinarian familiar with treating hermit crabs immediately.

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, it’s essential to seek veterinary care for your hermit crab. Treatment options will depend on the specific illness or injury, and a veterinarian familiar with treating hermit crabs can offer the best advice.

Increasing the Lifespan of Your Hermit Crab

By following the tips provided in this article, you can increase the lifespan of your pet hermit crabs. Here are some additional things to keep in mind:

  • Socialization: Hermit crabs are social creatures and thrive in groups. Consider adding more hermit crabs to their habitat to encourage socialization and prevent loneliness.
  • Handling: While hermit crabs may seem like low-maintenance pets, they still require love and attention. Handle them gently and with care to prevent injury or stress.
  • Variety: Offer your hermit crabs a variety of foods and accessories to keep them entertained and stimulated. This will encourage them to explore and prevent boredom.
  • Avoid Overcrowding: While socialization is essential, avoid overcrowding your hermit crab’s habitat. Provide ample space for each pet to move around comfortably.
  • Know Your Hermit Crab: Get to know the personality and needs of your hermit crabs. By understanding their behavior and temperament, you can provide the best care possible and identify any issues early on.


In conclusion, the lifespan of hermit crabs in captivity can vary depending on various factors such as habitat quality, access to food and water, and exposure to toxins. On average, hermit crabs can live up to 10-15 years in captivity, but with proper care and attention, they can live even longer.

By providing them with suitable habitat, a nutritious diet, and regular monitoring of their health, you can help promote the health and longevity of your pet hermit crabs. With love and care, these fascinating creatures can bring joy and companionship for years to come.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *